A new school could be renamed after football legend Jimmy Armfield after all – but only if it can be proved there’s a big enough demand.
Bosses at the Fylde Coast Academy Trust (FCAT), which is set to open Avenue Academy in 2018, are understood to have softened their stance on the idea after outright rejecting it last month.
Former mayor of Blackpool Robert Wynne, who led the initial calls for a re-think – and even offered to pay for holding signs at the school to be replaced – said he will now launch a petition to show FCAT bosses just how popular the proposal is.
He said: “I have never had so many people come up to me randomly to say what a good idea it is, so I have no doubt the petition will attract enough support across the town and maybe on a national level too.
“I suspect it will prove to the trust’s members, who are all good people, that there is a lot of support and that this would enhance the school.
“It would be another reason to be proud of the school that will be opening.”
Avenue Academy is set to open as an all-through school for two to 16 year olds on the site of the former Arnold school in Lytham Road, South Shore. A consultation on its name was held, with members of the public asked to send their suggestions in.
The Armfield Academy was not one of those suggested at the time, with Avenue Academy chosen as the name because it ‘relates well to the number of roads in the area with avenue in their name,’ FCAT’s outgoing chief executive officer Felicity Greeves told The Gazette in October.
She added: “The name also reflects the considerable green space and trees around the school, which FCAT is keen to preserve.”
Her replacement Tony Nicholson later said that while the trust was ‘mindful’ of Arnold’s heritage – Jimmy is a former pupil – it ‘felt a new beginning was needed in line with our key objectives’.
However, they have now expressed a willingness to honour the 81-year-old World Cup winner and former Pool captain, who was recently diagnosed with cancer for a second time. He previously underwent treatment in 2007, which was successful.